(FTW? WTF! In case you need to brush up on your internet slang, you can do so here. You’ll notice there are two possible definitions. How your rice turns out determines which of those FTW definitions to employ for your recipe files.)
Oh Fried Rice, how I would have revelled in knowing your secret as an undergrad. You’re more of a magic trick than a recipe. All those times stumbling home drunk to find an empty fridge, save for a couple eggs and a lone take-out pagoda of petrified rice which, in my ignorance, I didn’t give another glance. I just let the light fall dark on them. Then I probably threw them away a week later. I shudder to think of that now. There are few things I find harder to stomach than wasted food. [This passion may stem from my grandmother, a child of the Depression, affectionately known as “Gogs” to her grandchildren, who once purchased a personal-sized cooler at a church thrift store in FL (“Noah’s Ark”) in order to drive home to D.C. with the leftover cheese remnants from our extended family vacation. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.]
There is nothing exact or measured about this recipe (apologies to my OCD friends). If you’ve had it before, you can judge the proper ratios for yourself. With it’s cornucopia of flavor, color, and texture possibilities, fried rice deserves to be eyeballed rather than measured. Basic fried rice begins with 5 ingredients:
- cooked rice (white or brown)
- eggs (in general, use roughly one per cup cooked rice, more if meatless)
- peanut oil (or other high-temp oil will do)
- sesame oil
- soy sauce
Fried rice variations are endless and should be tailored to your new anti-food-waste needs. The last batch I made (pictured above) featured in addition to the big 5, a languishing half head of cauliflower, onion, carrot, celery, frozen peas, mushrooms, leftover chicken salvaged from an unfortunately flavored Tom Yum soup delivery, green onion, sesame seeds and fresh parsley. Though my children would have sneered at several of those ingredients alone, as a family we crushed that batch of fried rice, and avoided paying for an additional meal for five in the process (now you see why it’s more like magic?).
- diced mirapoix (onion, carrot, celery)
- diced bbq pork, or cooked meat of your choice
- frozen peas
- sesame seeds
- fresh cilantro or parsley
- ground coriander
If you are using onion, carrot, celery or other fresh veggies, dice them while heating some peanut oil (enough to coat the bottom) to med-high (shimmery but not smoking) in a large enameled or non-stick deep sauté pan (or wok if you have one). Add a couple drops of sesame oil, then sauté and season your veggies. Softer vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, and zucchini, if used should be added/seasoned a few minutes later, and cooked with the lid on. Once veggies have reached desired doneness, push them to one side of the pan. Add a few more drops of both oils to the pan and once heated, crack the eggs directly into the clearing. Season them with salt, pepper, and coriander. Break them up to cook.
Stir cooked eggs into veggie mixture. If pan has lost it’s oil coating, add a bit more. Dump rice into pan, drizzle conservatively with soy sauce (you can always add more later). If rice is cold from the fridge, cook covered for a few minutes to soften, adding a few drops of water to rehydrate grains if necessary. Add meat and frozen peas, stirring to combine. Fry mixture until peas are done.
Before serving, taste the rice and adjust the seasonings. Garnish with fresh herbs and sesame seeds. FTW!